Walking Liberty Half Dollar

Posted by on December 5, 2011

Coin Weight (g) Composition Silver Melt Value Full Melt Value
Walking Liberty (1916-1921, 1923, 1927-1929, 1933-1947) 12.5 90% silver, 10% copper
1941 LIBERTY HALF DOLLAR a (photo by Woody1778a*)

1941 LIBERTY HALF DOLLAR obverse (photo by Woody1778a*)

The Walking Liberty Half Dollar was designed by sculptor Adolph A. Weinman in 1916 and was minted from 1916 to 1945.  It weighs 12.50 grams, 30.6mm diameter, and 1.8mm thick.  It's made of 90% silver and 10% copper and minted in Denver (mint marked D), San Francisco (mint marked S) and Philadelphia (showing no mint mark).  The Edge is reeded.

The obverse is a recreation of Adolph A. Weinman’s 1916 Walking Liberty design from the United State’s silver half dollar minted from 1916 to 1947. This iconic popular image has “LIBERTY” encircling the top half below the rim, “IN GOD WE TRUST” on the lower left of the coin, and the date on the very bottom rim.


The reverse has a walking bald eagle facing left with opened wings and a small tree to the left.  The denomination; “HALF DOLLAR” is written encircling underneath the eagle. “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” is written encircling above.  “E PLURIBUS UNUM” is to the left of the eagle.  In 1917 the mint marks were sometimes put under the tree and in 1918 to 1947 all mint marks were located under the tree.

Adolph A. Weinman was a sculptor by trade.  In 1915 the United States Mint Director Robert W. Wolley thought he needed new designs for the half dollar, quarter, and dime.  He was dissatisfied with those put forward by the mints engravers and asked three sculptors to draw up design proposals.  Weinman’s was selected for the half dollar, and the dime.  US Mint engrave George T. Morgan (designer of the Morgan dollar) helped Weinman in 1918 with various design issues.

1941 LIBERTY HALF DOLLAR reverse (photo by woody1778a*)

1941 LIBERTY HALF DOLLAR reverse (photo by woody1778a*)

Even though this is a much loved design both Liberty and the bald eagle show wear even in ‘Very Fine’ condition.  This was a situation that they tried to correct during the years of minting by working on the roller that produces the master dies.  It seems best to look at the lettering to differentiate the various grades of ‘Poor’ through ‘Good’.  For ‘Very Good’ to ‘Extremely Fine’ use the eagles’ wing and Liberty’s branches.  In general these surfaces will correspond with the general wear description.

The Walking Liberty Half Dollar silver coins series has a few collectible errors. The 1928 S has a large and small mint mark variation.  This silver coin also has premium mint years - one being the 1921 Denver (246,000 minted) and Philadelphia (208,000 minted). Most year's mintings run well over a million silver half dollar coins.

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2 Responses to Walking Liberty Half Dollar

  1. Santa Monica Coin Dealers

    Thanks for the post, it has made things alot clearer for me.

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